• Saundra Smyrski

The Masses are Irrelevant.




This heavy hitter just grazed my inbox… again! There’s a lot to be said about something this significant.


There are so many moving targets here; from your typical medical error allegations to opposing retaliation claims, deeming the actions being taken as personal- not professional… nothing new.


Subtract the legal/ medical politics and theatrical extraneous filler and the article quotes:


Dr. Thomas Weiner, a medical oncologist is noted as:

—> seeing as many as 60 patients a day

—> the only medical oncologist at St. Peter’s for the past 5 years

—> nearly always on call or working, which meant he missed events such as his sister’s wedding and his father’s funeral

—> Approximately 60 patient contacts on 5 days a week yields 300 patient contacts per week for 50 weeks per year, he points out. (Weiner had 2 weeks' vacation.) That is 15,000 patient contacts in person or by phone per year.


Where some see honor, herein, I see missed opportunity. I see red flags. I see a provider, who albeit may have had every right and just intent, also appears to have made some very poor errs in judgement; prior to even veering into the alleged true medical allegations.


This is where I shall hang my hat…


Robert Witham, MD, a medical oncologist from the state of Washington hired by Weiner's lawyers, stated, “Considering the complexity of oncology patients, he would on average deal with four new items per contact. That is 60,000 separate decisions each year," Witham commented. "How many erroneous decisions out of 60,000 are allowed?"


My viewpoint- Ehh, it doesn’t really matter.


What does matter are the victim(s), senselessly injured, due to a highly accepted, flawed mentality, that “more is better” and “casualties are just a part of the job.”


Dr. Witham’s response in the evaluation of Dr. Weiner’s assessment and management of 10 patients who were highlighted by St. Peter's as receiving insufficient care, says that Weiner "is not a bad doctor and he has good skills but he is over-loaded."


I’ll conclude with my 2 cents here.


While I applaud effort, I’ll never condone negligence. Being “over-loaded” is a choice. A poor choice. But a choice.


When you, as a healthcare provider… {from the foundational level of a Nursing Assistant, to the highest grossing Cardiothoracic Surgeon, or whomever decides to beat on their chest this week}… accept an assignment of 10, 100, 1000+ patients, you should be held accountable to the the masses, on an individualized, case by case, discretionary basis.


On paper, true enough- you will notice a running tabulation of account/ room numbers, prefacing patient names of course, miles long…


… but to the “individual” senselessly injured and their individual assortment of loved ones left picking up the pieces, or left behind altogether- the masses, quite frankly, are irrelevant. As they should be.

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